31 August 2010

Survival Skills -- The Need for Hard Work

After reading this post at The Pioneer Woman last week, I am still thinking about it and mourning two facts: 1) That we've lost the knowledge and necessity for self-sufficiency in our modern world -cut off the grocery store and in less than a week this country will chaos and desperation. And 2), that most kids don't get the opportunity to live like the Drummond ranching family kids do every day. We don't teach them to clean their own homes anymore because we've hired a maid, they don't have to do much that is physically challenging. What kind of world are we preparing them for? A world where they sit...sit and eat, sit and watch TV, sit at a desk and stare into a computer, and sit in a car in traffic.

Breaks the heart of this farm girl who grew up cleaning house, gardening, driving a tractor from about age five, hauling hay - yes lifting those big heavy bales up on a wagon in my early teens; killing, plucking and freezing chickens; helping freeze or can fruits and vegetables; pushing a big lawn mower around some very big farm-sized yards; taking care of the little ones; making meals and whatever else needed to be done.

You did it because you were part of the family and it was expected, especially as an oldest child. I didn't always enjoy it, I did complain and was bratty at times. I credit my parents, grandparents and the rest of my no-nonsense farm-raised family for modeling how to hush up and get to work. I didn't realize at the time that they were teaching me how to survive and thrive as an adult.

We've become such a nation of unchallenged cripples in so many ways. I hope to change that in some small way. The Little Bug who is only four, is learning how to cook, unload the dishwasher, clean house and sort and fold laundry - she did an amazing job with all the washcloths, dish towels and hand towels this weekend. She helped me wash my car, she knows how to clean up a room buried in toys in just minutes.

Yes, she does say, "Wow, I'm getting really tired of all this work" after a couple of minutes of hard labor at times. But I sure am proud of her.This is the time, before five years old, to teach them how to work when they want to be with you, around you all the time and doing what all the grown ups are doing that seems so interesting.

If they're going to learn how to work, they have to see us actually doing work, not paying others to do it for us...and we have teach them by doing their work with them, making it fun, helping them see the value of being self-sufficient. Teach them how to properly clean a kitchen, bathroom and car. Let them help you cook and make meals from the first minute they show an interest. I started cooking at age 6 and many nights growing up cooked meals for the family. We usually made our own lunches. I am always a little stunned when I see kids reach adulthood who have never cooked a meal for their families. Show them how to sew on a button, to iron a shirt and do laundry.

The economic downturn has been a great lesson to a couple of pretty spoiled generations. Life will not always be easy and those who will survive will be those who know how to work creatively, work hard and have the endurance to tough it out.

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